Thursday, April 18, 2024

Marin M. Miller on the path to becoming Nimbus in Destiny 2

Voice actor Marin M. Miller’s first real push into pursuing acting was seeing Robin Williams’ performance in Patch Adams — particularly sequences in the DVD’s behind the scenes footage.

“There’s a scene in that movie where Robin Williams swims in a pool of spaghetti with an old woman, because that’s like one of her bucket list items,” Miller recalled while chatting with Gayming Magazine. “So I was like, ‘I want to get, you can get paid to swim in a pool of spaghetti with an old woman being an adult. Sounds awesome.’ So that was my career goal. Still have not achieved it, by the way.”

Screenshot of Robin Williams as Patch Adams swimming in a pool of noodles with an old lady
Marin M. Miller has always wanted to swim in noodles with an old lady | Image Source: Universal Pictures

While they may not have achieved that particular (and, admittedly specific) goal quite yet, Miller has found a good deal of success across varied career paths over the years. Though you may be most familiar with Miller’s voice work from their recent appearances in AAA titles like the Dead Space remake and Destiny 2: Lightfall, they’ve been working as an actor for years now, along with several other careers, from playing multiple characters at a Universal Studios theme park, to working as a localizer, to performing as an opera singer.

These careers are all fairly entwined in Miller’s past, and most of them were meant to help them achieve their goal of becoming a voice actor in one way, or another. In-person acting is laden with expectations about people’s bodies, and Miller was always told they would mostly play one type of character due to their height. This typecasting was for larger, often horror or monster-related characters. In 2007, Miller worked at a Universal Studios theme park as a killer clown for its Halloween event that year. They also played a few of Universal’s classic movie monsters in one of the park’s attractions, as well as taking up the mantles of both Shrek and Homer Simpson for a while.

Wearing these costumes is even more physically demanding than you might expect — Miller noted that the Homer Simpson costume was a helmet with the whole cartoon head on top, forcing the wearer’s neck to bear all of that weight — so they eventually ended up quitting. They weren’t ready to give up on acting, but in-person roles were demanding on their body in more ways than one. But thanks to their exposure to anime, they knew that voice over work was an option, so they started seeking out voice actors to talk with and learn from.

“And yeah, I just kind of squirreled my way into it from there.” Miller said.

Miller started voice training to help improve their instrument, and during that time they were told they had a “very classically oriented” voice. With voice acting still being hit-or-miss for them in terms of auditioning, they decided to give opera a real chance.

Screenshot from the Dead Space remake, in which Marin M Miller does voice work
Image Source: Motive Studios

“I started really pursuing opera a little more seriously because I had never given it a serious chance, and I thought it was kind of a waste for me to have a really nice sounding voice and not try,” Miller told Gayming.

Pursuing opera also helped Miller realize they have a severe anxiety disorder, as they would start sobbing before every performance. Because of this, their opera wasn’t meant to be long-term, but stepping into this world did give Miller a bit of a new perspective about their body. Their mind may have needed a break, but their body was great for opera.

“Because I grew up in a very conservative town and I’m a big person, I was not really used to seeing femmes or women who were big like me. And when I started going into opera spheres, people were excited by the fact that I was big, because it meant the voice was big. And so that was kind of like the first time where I was like, ‘oh, these weird things about me make sense to other people, they excite other people.'”

Beyond Miller’s anxiety disorder, fully committing to opera would also have required them to move to Europe to be successful, and they simply didn’t want to do that. They had already built a foundation for themselves as a voice over performer, and they didn’t want to uproot all of that quite yet. Besides, any work done towards refining your craft is never a waste, in Miller’s view.

Screenshot of Athena from Hades, who Marin M. Miller voices, saying "here on olympus is the opposite of everything about that lifeless squalor you reside in. Fight on and come to us!"
Athena is one of three characters Marin M. Miller plays in Hades | Image Source: Supergiant Games

It certainly wasn’t a waste in the view of Supergiant Games’ creative director, Greg Kasavin. He emailed Miller through their site directly to ask them to audition for an upcoming project after seeing their performance in the Little Witch Academia dub as Amanda. That project was none other than Supergiant’s smash hit roguelike, Hades. They auditioned for multiple roles, but ultimately ended up landing the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and the furies, Tisiphone and Alecto.

Their audition process for Destiny 2 was significantly different. They got the initial call through their agent, and auditioned for the game under a code name. Whey they were called back, they were told that the original script they had read wasn’t actually real, but just kind of a written vibe check for who this character would eventually become. The casting directors had Miller go over a variety of lines to check out their flexibility and range, though Miller was one of many actors in the process. That ultimately didn’t matter, though, as they received a confirmation email of their casting a few weeks later.

Screenshot of Nimbus from Destiny: 2 Lightfall
Image Source: Bungie

This mystery character ended up being Nimbus, one of the Cloud Striders that Guardians interact with during the course of the Destiny 2: Lightfall expansion. Nimbus has been a fairly contentious addition to the sci-fi shooter’s story. They, like Miller, are nonbinary and use “they/them” pronouns, which unsurprisingly has caused a ruckus amongst conservative fans, despite Destiny 2‘s deep roster of LGBTQ+ characters.

Other fans have taken issue with Nimbus’ personality — rather than their pronouns — because they find the brash rookie to be dorky and annoying. But according to Miller, that’s pretty much exactly the vibe the Bungie team were going for when they showed them reference images for the character.

“They used like three images of different characters to kind of give you the idea of who Nimbus was,” Miller told Gayming. “And it was like Scorpia from She-Ra, Korra from The Legend of Korra, and I’m pretty sure it’s that shot of Thor when he’s recognizing the Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok.”

Anyone familiar with these characters know that they’re all on the impulsive, brash, and kind of foolish side, so Nimbus being the same way isn’t all that surprising. Miller knew there would be people who would have a loud reaction to the character’s gender and pronouns, but they didn’t realize there would be so much outrage over who Nimbus actually is. They feel part of this upset is due to the fact that fans thought Nimbus would be a sexier, darker character than who they turned out to be.

“I knew that people were going to react strongly just because of the character’s gender,” Miller said. “I knew that people were going to react strongly because the character had a sense of humor, and I knew that it would get quite a bit of attention. But the thing that I didn’t expect, was that I feel like everyone was expecting me [as Nimbus] to be sexier than I was.”

“I think that’s part of the part of why so many people had such a strong reaction as they see this big, half naked, chiseled, gorgeous, whatever the f*ck person, and they just expect them to be like, ‘hello, I am your daddy now,’ and they just kind of got like, a happy go lucky little duder.”

While Nimbus has been confirmed as a “zaddy” by Bungie PR, they’re also a newbie to the Cloud Riders and are generally overeager to get into the thick of things and prove themselves. People have layers, and while some fans may find Nimbus to be annoying or tropey, Miller feels they’re simply more than what their exterior has to offer.

“I mean, that’s what you get when you make assumptions about people based off of what they look like,” they told Gayming.

Miller also noted that while the initial reaction was from the loudest of the usual suspects, playing Nimbus has largely been a positive experience for them, and other nonbinary folks within the Destiny 2 community.

“I gained 1200 followers from my announcement alone and have received several comments and emails from non-binary individuals expressing their joy at feeling seen, especially in such a larger than life character,” Miller said. “Nimbus is quite beloved by the people they were made for, and I absolutely love them as well.”

Ty Galiz-Rowe

Ty is a freelance games writer and esports expert.